Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monticello Road Update #2: Time for the Next Stage

This neighborhood is very culturally rich. People like Christian DeBaun--one of the prime movers behind the Charlottesville Photography Initiative--have tremendously much to offer besides being willing subjects.

I had an amazing talk with, Lulu Miller, a kick-@$$ writer/story-teller/oral-historian who lives in the neighborhood. The discussion made me realize that the project is ready for its next stage.

Not only does Lulu completely understand what we’re doing and why but on a fundamental level she appreciates the profound ocean of interesting experience behind every portrait. It would be great to have voices to go with the faces, but it’s not really my specialty. It is hers though!

This has been the plan all along: to open it up to a wider collaboration beyond myself. I have been biding my time in assembling the team to expand the project in this way. Three intertwined forces are coming together that make the moment ripe.

1. The project is now mature. There is a very, very substantial body of images—more than enough for the exhibit, book, and whatever else we want to do—and it is growing all the time. We have a respectable platform in the Bridge and lots of media interest. Our work will definitely be seen/heard.

2. The project has a significant network of sources, plenty of interviews just waiting to happen and access and street-cred that will open many more doors as well.

3. Developing these networks has brought us into contact with some very impressive and skilled potential collaborators. The past year of pounding the pavement has honed the message so it is clear, finite, and compelling—a much easier sell to those specialists.

I told Lulu that the past year has felt like the discovery phase of a larger project and as the photography piece begins to take physical form, it is time to plan the next, wider step.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be recruiting collaborators and looking at—and beyond—the April exhibition into ways to extend the venture beyond our existing plans. We’re thinking about deepening the project, doing more within the neighborhood, but also with an eye on creating a model that other people can use in other places.

Watch for some kind of summit or meet-up or feel free to contact me with your thoughts, ideas, and volunteerist enthusiasm. This project is all about Community and what it means to inhabit a space together. It’s exciting to think about working, and growing, in concert with such impressive and interesting people.

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